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How do I stop being late?

(118 Posts)
DrWhy Sun 14-Apr-19 00:26:56

I seems to be constantly chasing my tail and running from one thing to another getting progressively later for each one despite being on maternity leave and actually having very little of any importance to do.
There is yet another thread running in AIBU about late people and the consensus is that they are rude, lazy and care more about their time than your own. I know it’s rude, I hate letting people down but it’s caused by trying to do too much usually rather than laziness. I seem to also have a complete blind spot when it comes to accurately estimating how long it will take to do anything. For full disclosure, I have a job when I’m not on mat leave, it has flexible hours and I travel to work with DH in the mornings, he is usually in the car with the engine running when I leave the house, I am typically one of the last to arrive at meetings, not unusual to be a couple of minutes late - it’s never been mentioned at an appraisal but I’m sure it’s noticed. I’ve missed one plane and a couple of trains - I know leave myself a huge margin for things like this but still frequently end up ‘late’ compared to the time my plan expected me to be there. So it’s not just irritating to other people it impacts my own life.
A typical example, one day a week I have DS 2.5 home in the morning and take him and DD (5 months) to playgroup, then I drop him at nursery for lunch and take DD to swimming. This week was school holidays so no playgroup and no swimming lesson - should have been really chillled. However, I agreed to meet a friend for swimming with our babies instead. Thought meeting for lunch beforehand would be fine as DS was eating at nursery so agreed 12.30 in sports centre centre cafe, plenty of time before a nursery meeting at 4pm. Some playgroup friends were meeting at a farm park at 10.30-11ish so I said we’d go earlier, see them briefly than I’d get DS to nursery. What actually happened was that despite being up at 7 with DS, when DH left at 7.45 we had showered but I was getting dressed and DS was refusing to get dressed. It then took me until 10.30 to get me dressed, DS dressed, DD changed, fed and dressed, everybody breakfasted, the changing bag topped up, DS to sit on the potty, everything including the children into the car. So we arrived at the farm park at 10.45 - around 30 mins before we needed to leave. I stressed about feeling guilty at dragging DS away so quickly so called nursery to see if they could keep his lunch if he was half an hour later, which they said was fine and called my friend to see if she was happy to eat with her baby and I’d join them once they’d finished, also fine. So I reset my leaving time by half an hour. 10 minutes before we needed to leave I started trying to get moving - I can’t really pick up DS with DD in the sling so lots of persuading, cajoling etc we finally get moving, have the compulsory before we get in the car loo stop with lots of protesting. Get to the car, get DD in car seat, DS says he needs a wee, DD back in sling, back to the loos, DS has his wee, back in the car, now 10 minutes late for the rearranged late time. Drop DS in nursery, feel massively guilty that he’s now having lunch on his own. Arrive at pool, feel massively guilty that friend is hanging about waiting having finished her lunch. Go swimming, friend leaves early as her baby is not enjoying it. Sit in pool cafe and feed baby, think, I’ve got an an hour to kill before DS nursery meeting, I’ll pop into Asda nearby and get some stuff we need. Walk to car, get DD into car, drive a few mins to supermarket, get DD out of car, dither over shopping, try to find stuff in unfamiliar supermarket, realise I need to leave in 10 minutes to be on time for nursery meeting, try to find that one last item, join checkout queue and realise I should be leaving in 2 mins, get everything to car, get DD in, DH calls to check where I am as he’s at the nursery gate, I break down in tears as I’m letting people down by being late yet again. All totally avoidable.
I try to fit too much in, am unrealistic about how long things take, am bad at leaving one thing to get on to the next, get caught chatting to people and don’t know how to get away. I also struggle to get the children organised and moving although I can’t entirely blame them as I was very similar before.
How do people manage to be on time? What practical strategies do you use? I’ve tried building in contingency but I somehow know it’s not a ‘real’ deadline so I’ve usually used it by the time I leave the house. Google maps helps for planning journey times but how do you plan how long it will take to do something? How do you leave a job you haven’t finished or walk away from a conversation?
Help please, I know I need to sort this out, I just somehow can’t make it happen.

DrWhy Sun 14-Apr-19 00:28:50

Hit realised that’s a mammoth essay, it’s taken me nearly an hour to write. I am now an hour late going to sleep so I will be tired and grouchy tomorrow. I need to have some self control.

Hearhere Sun 14-Apr-19 00:29:30

I wish I knew, I'm just the same 🙄

alwaystimeforcakeandtea Sun 14-Apr-19 00:31:38

Same also sad

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 14-Apr-19 00:35:12

You need to realise your time isn't more important that anyone else's and until you do you'll continue to run late.

Lilsquish Sun 14-Apr-19 00:37:11

no advice OP sorry, but sympathy as im often the same.

i get so annoyed at myself as constantly running late and rushing around.

i find that if i really concentrate to be in time for something then i can manage it, but the next day im often back to chasing my tail.

only thing I can think of is to make sure clothes, bags and breakfast stuff for DC all looked out and organised the night before? xx

GreenTulips Sun 14-Apr-19 00:37:20

I only ever booked one thing a day. So kids get to chill and then do something fun. At the moment you aren’t giving anyone any quality time, you just feel you have to stick to arrangements and they should be happy that you showed up however late.

So step one, only agree to one activity a day.

Two start timing yourselves doing things - then get it it he habbitnof setting your alarm on the Phone to help with timings

I’m not surprised you cried, you are wearing yourself too thin and at no point are you getting a rest in the day

ValiaH Sun 14-Apr-19 00:43:41

I am also perpetually late, not through not caring but through trying to do too much. Things I now do- limit what I do. If I have half hour spare before school pickup, that is half hour spare to sit in the car and browse the internet. It is not 'free time', its me being early to an appointment. I limit activities to one a day- its the Easter holidays so today, kids had a party each so I took one, a friend took the other. Tomorrow we will go to my DM's house for lunch but not church, if we were going to church we wouldn't go for lunch too. In your situation, you are filling your days with too much, as you said. So scrap the asda trip. Turning up somewhere when you have to leave in half hour just doesn' t work with kids, so I would have cancelled that trip before I left the house as with mine, that would have meant arriving and leaving at the same time. If I am not ready before DH leaves for work in the morning then it takes an age so everyone is up breakfasted and I am dressed. That asda trip was not needed and made you late again, tagging extra visits to places is not going to help. Oh and I keep as much kid paraphenalia in the car as possible- nappies wipes buggies etc- as then if I am late I know have the basics. I am definitely speaking from experience and I maybe succeed 50 percent of the time?

ValiaH Sun 14-Apr-19 00:45:45

Incidentally I am also an hour late for bed, and will also be grumpy tomorrow as a result! Have you looked into executive functioning and tips for people with adhd? I found it helpful to see other peoples 'tricks' and ideas to cope and eventually make habits.

ScouseQueen Sun 14-Apr-19 00:51:20

I posted this on the other thread too - this article really helped me to recognise some of my own habits, and be better at stopping doing them - it's a work in progress though!

gretchenrubin.com/2014/05/are-you-chronically-late-8-tips-for-showing-up-on-time

DaftQuery Sun 14-Apr-19 06:03:59

You said DS was refusing to get dressed. But he's 2.5.... so now were you trying to get him to get dressed?
Are you going to wear this or this? (Two options only)
Are you going to dress yourself or is Mummy going to help you?

No breakfast until dressed worked for us. They had to wear an apron to protect clothes. The baby is still portable so you could have fed at the park. If the 2.5 year old wasn't cooperating then you could have left without giving him breakfast (and taken a snack for the park).

It doesn't change much! I give mine an hours warning and they're still scrabbling around right at the last minute. Think how much time you need and double it grin On school days I set alarms. The one day DH took them I told him when they need to do everything. He looked at me as if I was an idiot and said "they don't need that long!" Yep, the one day they were late...

However, at 2.5 potty training is a valid excuse and I wouldn't be annoyed if someone was late because of that.

Loopyloopy Sun 14-Apr-19 06:11:40

I think that you are trying to do too much. That kind of schedule is one that you'd do by yourself or one school aged kid. Two littlies is just too chaotic! Take the supermarket for instance - I would have just skipped it, because it always turns into a drama.

randomsabreuse Sun 14-Apr-19 06:14:39

A potty trained/training toddler is not easy to manage to be on time anywhere- they are masters of the art of prevarication and if you leave too much time they get distracted... I have finally found my sweet spot for getting DD ready for preschool after 2 terms - one that requires constant action by her. It takes between 15 and 20 minutes to get ready and out the door not including breakfast. If I start with more than 20 minutes we have a nightmare because she gets distracted if not kept moving. Being ready too early isn't ideal because we walk and it's no distance so we'd arrive before gates open. Letting her play once ready also disastrous when tried. ..

So you have 2 problems - toddler wrangling with baby attached and being overambitious with plans. Given joys of toddler wrangling I'd simplify plans to 1 thing a day until it works, then add more once you have a system.

Definitely try to pack stuff night before and have it ready then you just have to focus on organising humans.

Mississippilessly Sun 14-Apr-19 06:42:53

Your kids must be exhausted. Honestly what you've just described would have been my activities for a few days. Right, things to fo:
1. Scale RIGHT back. One activity a day. That's it.
2. Online shop. Seriously. Shopping always takes longer than you think it will.
3. Add 30 mins to your schedule - kids do faff, getting anywhere takes longer.
4. Pack the change bag every evening, with your wallet etc in
5. Have an agreed place for as many items as possible so getting stuff doesnt take too long.

Bagpuss5 Sun 14-Apr-19 06:48:54

An hour is not enough for supermarket shopping. Remember supermarkets make a point of putting commonly used goods at far ends of the supermarket and now staff the tills with the bare minimum of staff. And as for doing anything quickly with a little one, or even two!! , too many things can go wrong.

DreamingofSunshine Sun 14-Apr-19 07:02:12

I think you've identified some issues yourself - packing too much in and underestimating how long something takes.

Popping in to the supermarket is something only a single adult can do, not a toddler. For me it's an activity in itself!

Preparing is key. My DH is a late person and decided yesterday that he and DS were going to leave with me as I went to an appointment. Only reason it was possible was that the change bag had been prepped by me last night so it was ready to go. DH would only do it as he needs to leave, which takes a few minutes but delays him. See also finding toddler shoes/coat/hat/pushchair raincover etc. All take time and mean that leaving for a train in 5 minutes becomes impossible so he misses the train making him 10 minutes late. He then realises that he forgot snacks, so has to detour to Tesco Express, adding another 15 minutes to the lateness.

Carpetburns Sun 14-Apr-19 07:06:28

I'm a bit like you OP. For me it's due to overcommitting. Perhaps don't agree to doing so much

YouMaySayImADreamer Sun 14-Apr-19 07:09:37

I am very similar to you and your day sounds very familiar. I am getting better though, and these are the things I have recognised and which also stuck out from your description of your day (it is so much easier to notice when written down, so maybe read back your OP and self critique).

You are trying to fit too much into your day and don't account for things going "wrong" or give realistic timescales for how long things take with dc. It is almost like you are filling every spare hour with only travelling/eating/toilet time inbetween. I would not have agreed to the farm or have gone to the supermarket. It was just too tight! (I probably would have done in the past though!).

I have a bit of a compulsion myself to fill all my time and am inclined not to factor in down time or turnaround time from one thing to the next. Having recognised this, I now tend to plan short bursts of activity, with a bit of down time scheduled in. Previously i'd have worried that the planned activity wouldn't take all day or morning etc, but actually have found it is often just enough for the dc and things are a lot less stressful. I also make sure I have everything I need ready, or at least know exactly where it is the evening before.

I also have a tendancy to get distracted very easily. So I may know I have an hour to get ready and feel that is plenty, but then I see a pile of washing and decide to put that away because I have "plenty of time". Now, I focus on the task in hand, first and foremost I need to get ready and allow for time to get shoes on, get in the car etc. If I then find I am left with some time, it is then that I put the washing away - but more often than now, I don't. It is about adjusting your concept of time and being honest with yourself about how long things take. I find I have to constantly check the clock and remind myself to stay on target. I think perhaps it just doesn't come naturally for some of us.

SoyDora Sun 14-Apr-19 07:10:40

Ok so reading the events that day, it was madness to agree to the farm park in the morning. You just didn’t have enough time. And when you found yourself running late for the farm park you should have admitted defeat and cancelled.
I feel sorry for your swimming friend who ended up eating alone instead of with a friend, hanging around waiting for you, then having to leave the swim early anyway as her baby wasn’t happy. Crap day for her, I’d probably have gone home and cried!
Anyway as others have said you try and fit too much in. Far better to do fewer activities but to actually be on time for them and not spend the entire time stressing about getting to the next one.

Decormad38 Sun 14-Apr-19 07:11:50

My DH and his mum are the same and Im one of those people who is never late so they annoy and fascinate me in equal measures.
One thing I have come to realise that they do is to book too much into their day. I am always saying to my DH ‘you can’t do all that’, he never listens and then is late!

SoyDora Sun 14-Apr-19 07:13:47

And just to say if I was your swimming friend I probably wouldn’t arrange any outings with you again!

Smoggle Sun 14-Apr-19 07:20:25

Two children under 3 and you decide to:
Go to a farm park
Do a nursery run
Meet someone for lunch
Take babies swimming
Go to a supermarket
Get to a nursery meeting

All between 10am and 4pm?

That's utterly ridiculous.
As is leaving yourself 10 minutes to leave anyway with small children.

Farm Park or swimming is one day's activity.

If you know you need to leave somewhere at 11ish, then start 30 minutes earlier with packing up, going to the toilet, getting coats on, walking to the car, getting in car seats etc.

Gribbie Sun 14-Apr-19 07:24:50

And when you found yourself running late for the farm park you should have admitted defeat and cancelled.

This! Then the rest of the day would have been less stressful. And remember - you came up with your leave times for a reason. Don’t alter them without really thinking it through.

CigarsofthePharoahs Sun 14-Apr-19 07:24:52

Op your day sounds utterly exhausting!
There's nothing wrong with telling friends "I'd love to but I've already got plans that day so I can't make it."
That's not rude. You sound like a nice person who is trying to please everyone by agreeing to everything but it's too much. Limit yourself to one activity in a day and assume everything starts 15 minutes before it actually does.
And yes, get the groceries delivered. Get a delivery pass which really cuts down on the cost too.

SammySamSam09 Sun 14-Apr-19 07:29:04

You are doing too much. You know you are doing too much and it's making you late yet you still do too much. So stop doing too much in one day.
I am always early. I leave lots of time between activities and also add on 30 minutes for travel. This often means I could be seeing the gp at 10am and then after lunch I take the kids out. Big gap between doing stuff with plenty of travel time factored into it and no bloody rushing.
I have 3 DC and mine are a lot older than yours so this is experience talking.

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